Fire chicken with cheese

Cheese buldak 치즈불닭

Today’s recipe is super-spicy chicken, called buldak in Korean. The Korean word bul means fire, and dak means chicken, so you can call this “fire chicken.”

I first heard about this dish years ago, when I still lived in Korea. One evening I saw a truck on the street selling barbecued chicken. The guy had set up a homemade grill with real fire underneath, and was barbecuing huge chunks of chicken covered in a thick, spicy paste. With the flames and the smoke, it was a real festive sight, and there was a crowd of people gathering around, some to buy his chicken and some to just take part in the revelry.

He had a banner on the side of his truck that said “불닭” (buldak). I had never heard the name before, but between the spicy chicken and the fire he was cooking it over, it seemed like a great name to me. I bought some and brought it home to my family. It was fantastic!

These buldak trucks caught on: they would come out in the evenings, set up their makeshift fire pits, and grill spicy chicken over the flames. People would come out and take part in the fun.

I can’t set up a fire pit in my apartment, but my version is still plenty fiery! This buldak is spicy, a little sweet, and plenty soft and juicy. The crunchy rice cakes are my own variation and optional, but they give the dish a wonderful texture. If you want to make it less spicy, cut down on the hot pepper flakes, or use milder flakes. I use chicken breast in my recipe, but you could use chicken thigh, too.

I hope you love this recipe! Let me know if you try it!
buldak with cheese (치즈불닭)

Ingredients (4 servings)

  • 2 pounds of chicken breast, cut into ¾ or 1 inch cubes
  • ½ cup Korean hot pepper flakes (gochugaru)
  • 2 to 3 tablespoons hot pepper paste
  • 1 tablespoon soy sauce
  • 3 tablespoons vegetable or corn oil
  • ½ teaspoon ground black pepper
  • ⅓ cup rice syrup (or corn syrup, sugar, honey)
  • 6 large garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 teaspoons ginger, minced
  • 1 pound mozzarella cheese (optional), cut into small pieces
  • 1 cup of sliced rice cake (optional)
  • 1 green onion, chopped
  • ¼ cup water



  1. Combine hot pepper flakes, hot pepper paste, soy sauce, 2 tablespoons vegetable oil, ground black pepper, rice syrup, garlic, and ginger in a bowl. Mix it well into a sweet and spicy paste.
  2. Add the chicken and mix well by hand.
    buldak with cheese (차즈불닭)
  3. Heat up a skillet with 1 tablespoon vegetable oil. Add the sliced rice cakes and fry them for a few minutes. Turn them over with a spatula once or twice until both sides are crispy and light golden brown.
    sliced rice cakes
  4. Place the marinated chicken into a heavy pan, preferably cast iron. Use the water to rinse the bowl and get the last of the sauce into the pan. Cover and cook over medium high heat for 10 minutes. If you use a normal frying pan, it will take 7 to 8 minutes. Be sure not to burn the chicken.
    buldak with cheese (치즈불닭) buldak with cheese (치즈불닭)
  5. Uncover, stir and turn over the chicken with a wooden spoon. Add the rice cakes to the top of the chicken.
    buldak with cheese (치즈불닭)
  6. Turn down the heat very low. Cover and let cook another 10 minutes, until the chicken is fully cooked. If you’re using cheese, pre-heat the oven broiler.
  7. When the chicken is cooked, put the cheese over the top. Slip it into the oven for a few minutes until the cheese is melted and bubbly.buldak in the oven
  8. Remove and sprinkle with the chopped green onion. Serve hot.
    buldak with cheese (치즈불닭)buldak with cheese (치즈불닭)

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  1. This was the first video of yours that I ever watched, Maanchi, and tonight I finally did it! It was a huge hit and sooo delicious. Thank you!

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  2. ColtPixy Bergen, Norway joined 7/17 & has 4 comments

    I was going to make this today after drooling over the recipe and video for months! I had secured my chicken, bought cheese and was ready to start when I got home from work. I had just measured up my hot pepper flakes when I remembered the chicken in the fridge and went to get it (my apartment is so small my fridge is in my living room not the kitchen). What do I discover?!?! It wasn’t chicken I had taken out of the freezer, it was white fish (which looks quite similar when deep frozen). So instead of the meal I’ve wanted to try for months, I had a tomato-based fish stew. I will try this recipe tomorrow, after buy chicken not just hoping that’s what I took out of the freezer.

    • ColtPixy Bergen, Norway joined 7/17 & has 4 comments

      So I was finally able to make this today and it was absolutely gorgeous! Takes a bit of time when you have a small kitchen and limited utensils and casseroles, and your oven overloads the circuit when cooking the chicken mixture and preheating the oven. Despite this I used no more than and hour, and that included two trips out of my apartment to turn the power back on! I made this in my wok, because I don’t have a skillet, and it turned out perfectly. I also didn’t have ginger so I squeezed half a lime in before topping with cheese.

      Thank you so much for this recipe and I have your yukgaejang recipe in mind next!

  3. shimeringstars McKees Rocks joined 6/17 & has 13 comments

    Loved this recipe so much! I got a lot of compliments on it and I will definitely be making this again in the near future.

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  4. Kfwooten NC, USA joined 6/17 & has 1 comment

    Great taste overall. Didn’t find it spicy enough and the proportion of pepper flakes made the sauce a bit off-putting texture-wise. Will be trying again by grinding the store-bought flakes to a finer texture, replacing some with fresh ghost pepper, and adding cayenne to help round together the flavors.

    Didn’t use cheese and only served with plain rice, but after seeing the comments will serve with cabbage next. Thank you for the recipe!

  5. If I replace rice syrup with corn syrup, do I have to mix the corn syrup with honey and sugar? Or do I just use corn syrup by itself?

  6. shscrafty79 Dallas, TX joined 1/17 & has 1 comment

    Made this tonight without the rice cakes or cheese. So incredibly delicious, I am in love!!

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  7. ChrisCooksKorean Oklahoma U.S. joined 9/16 & has 1 comment

    I love this recipe, and I’ve made this 5 or 6 times now. It always goes perfectly except for toasting the rice cakes. I use the frozen slices they sell at the grocery store and I can never get the little buggers to toast. If I put them in a hot pan frozen or thawed they just start to stick to the pan like glue well before they get anywhere close to being toasted. I’ve tried a dry pan and oil. It’s fine, because I prefer them chewy, but I can’t figure out why the ones in the recipe video don’t stick and mine do. Maybe because mine aren’t homemade?

    • kaite5028 Earth joined 11/16 & has 1 comment

      I just made this and used frozen sliced rice cakes. I let them thaw while I was getting everything else ready. I used a non-stick pan and the oil and didn’t have issues with them sticking to the pan. I did have problems with them sticking together though, so I had to work to break them apart. After they started to toast some they didn’t stick anymore. Overall, I’ve decided to skip the toasting part next time. I wasn’t a fan of the toasted rice cakes in the dish because I also like them chewy. Although, I did enjoy munching on them by themselves after they were toasted :)

  8. Andrea Italy joined 1/09 & has 20 comments

    Oh Maangchi, why haven’t I tried this recipe before?
    I just finished eating my portion (I’m the one who eats spiciest in the household, so I wanted to check it myself first) and… boom! What a delicious meal.
    I know I shouldn’t have cooked only one portion, it was so good!
    Thank you thank you for this good recipe. I’ve never been to Korea but with your recipes I get an idea of it.
    I have used normal Italian mozzarella, what you show in the recipe we call it mozzarella for pizza, so my cheese was a bit more watery and some of the rice cakes were soggy. Tasty nonetheless.
    Look at the photo, what a cute dish :-)
    Love from Italy

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  9. Rekhapragadish India joined 7/16 & has 1 comment

    Dear Maangchi

    I am so delighted to share my experience about trying this Cheese buldak.. Iam from India where I don’t get Gochujang.. I somehow got an imported tub from an online site and I tried this recipe..

    It became a big hit in our home in spite of the spiciness…I love the simplicity of this recipe where they is no need of marination and the mixing sauce and chicken gets cooked and final touch with mozzarella …

    I am new to Korean cooking and I have tried so many recipes from the site… Thanks for your wonderful recipes.. Looking forward for more spicier recipes from u..

    Rekha Pragadish.

  10. anits12 malaysia joined 6/16 & has 1 comment

    I am so going to try this recipe, what can I sub the rice syrup, I follow low carb, the rice syrup will throw me way out. Your suggestion will help, please. Thank you.

  11. nmai joined 5/15 & has 2 comments

    i think my sauce didn’t taste as good cause i used a bit of coarse chillli powder ;(

  12. Fany joined 12/15 & has 20 comments

    Hi Maangchi!
    What vegetables go best with it? Maybe one of your side dishes?

  13. Deb802 SF joined 2/16 & has 1 comment

    Hi Maangchi! 안녕하세요!
    I love your recipes and your videos are so fun to follow! I’m planning to make the fire chicken for some friends and was wondering if the taste would be compromised if I skipped the vegetable oil. Do you recommend a substitute or can I just skip the vegetable oil?


  14. Joyce Yu Irvine, CA. joined 9/09 & has 17 comments

    Hi Maangchi! I’ve been waiting for this recipe… It looks so good.

  15. jsp73 joined 3/15 & has 32 comments

    Delicious, but absolutely NOWHERE NEAR as spicy as what I ate in Korea. I used the extra spicy gochujang and threw in some of the small kimchi chiggae peppers when I made this, and it still didn’t make me sweat like the stuff I ate in Seoul (HongCho Bul ddeok was my favorite chain, but most others were extremely hot, too). How do I make it spicy enough???? What do they use? I tried habanero peppers, too (4, WITH seeds, and it still wasn’t as hot as what I ate in Korea so many many times). What is the secret?????

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